Daniel Martin wins Stage 6 of Tour, Van Avermaet keeps lead

Tom Skujins puts on the polka dot jersey after stage 5 at the Tour de France

Yesterday's Stage - A lung busting ascent of the Mûr-de-Bretagne was preceded by a frantic chase for position towards it, and Dan Martin took the honour on the day, sustained an incredible burst for over a kilometre and just holding off Pierre LaTour to take a huge stage win on many levels given that he was second here in 2015 when coming late.

At the end of the stage, BMC's Greg Van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey, with Team Sky's Geraint Thomas moving up to second, three seconds back.

"I came to this team to be the leader, and the pressure at the beginning of being the leader is why I didn't do so well in Spring", said Martin afterwards, "But there's a great feeling in the bus now, laughing and joking and this win is for them, they really looked after me".

The pace of the peleton quickened ahead of the category three climb to Mur de Bretagne, with the gap to the front shortening to under a minute with 20km to go.

"The race went so hard on the first part of the climb, I saw everyone was on the limit and there were no teammates left, so why not have a try?" I think I went too early in the sprint.

And with teams reduced from nine to eight members for the first time on the 2018 edition, any loss is felt even more keenly than ever.

"My first thoughts are that I hope my wife hasn't gone into labour", smiled Martin as he caught his breath.

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"The other day I was with a youth cycling coach and before races parents have been giving Ventolin to children who aren't sick", the Frenchman said. "My team did a brilliant job all day and I wanted to finish it off", he said.

When is the next stage of the Tour de France?

There was further fallout too from Tom Dumoulin's time penalty, imposed after Thursday's finish to Mûr-de-Bretagne, when Froome's rival slipstreamed his team vehicle after suffering a broken wheel five kilometres from the finish. The Dutchman was seventh going into this stage only 13 seconds behind Van Avermaet but will now be a minute behind.

Dumoulin, the time trial world champion and 2017 Giro d'Italia victor, was slowed by a tire puncture at the foot of the final ascent and lost 53 seconds.

Friday will see the riders take on the longest stage of the race at 218km when they take off from Fougeres and finish in Chartres.

Van Avermaet, a support rider for Porte, has held the yellow jersey since BMC won the team time trial on Stage 3.

On the same long straight uphill three years ago, Martin finished second and he has been hinting for the past few days that he had fireworks planned this year.

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